I’m pleased to read that our Senator Feinstein has paid a visit to her constituency in the Central Valley. Unfortunately, it appears she got the Sean Hannity Tour of a “fallowed” field on the south valley’s arid west side. (His tv show’s location was later identified as either a cotton field or a post-harvest tomato field.) It is also a revelation that in the last sentence of Feinstein’s rebuttal to the Chronicle’s editorial, she states her support for a “new conveyance system”. (Read “peripheral canal/tunnels”.)
While I sympathize with the unemployed in this region, data indicates that the housing collapse is more responsible for unemployment than the current man-made water shortage. For decades, advancements in technology and biology have continually reduced the number of agricultural jobs. Highly efficient “factory farms” probably employ more lawyers than farmers. Growing thirsty crops like cotton in an arid region that gets less than 6 of rain each year, is not a sustainable 21st century practice. To suddenly blame defenseless fish is delusional at best.
We need a state-wide water policy based on science and administered by scientists, not politicians and stake-holders. We need to establish a base-line for water flowing into the central valley and delta at which level the ecosystem will remain healthy. We need to develop a “land ethic” in which water flowing through the delta to sea is not perceived as “wasted”. Excess water above the base-line can then be distributed on a needs and best-practices basis.
I hope that Senator Feinstein will not try to circumvent the process she herself started. Let the scientists do their job and determine what is best for our delta. Meanwhile, think about which tastes better: salmon or cotton?